Soon after I was hired in early 2020 as an editor at Automotive News, I attended my first NADA Show. For someone just starting out covering the fixed ops industry as I was, it was a welcome immersion. I was able to meet trainers, vendors and fixed ops directors from around the country, learn more about the industry and gather some story ideas.
About a month later, the world shut down. Suddenly, the plan to crisscross the country to meet more service, parts and body shop managers at their dealerships was shelved. Instead, it was emails, phone calls and the occasional Zoom meeting.
It wasn't ideal, but I managed to meet fixed ops people and continued to learn more about the challenges dealership body shops and service and parts departments face. And we were able to publish Fixed Ops Journal from home.
That said, it was great to be back in person at this year's NADA Show to see all those folks I had talked to on the phone or "met" through my laptop screen. Folks like Ian Grace from automotiveMastermind, Larry Hourcle of the NADA Academy, Beau Brauer of Hunter Engineering and the entire Quantum5 team.
It was also nice to see some of the vendors that supply dealership service departments and view their latest tools and technology up close. And it was interesting to meet new startups that are trying to draw attention — and business — from dealerships. You'll be reading more about some of them in upcoming issues of Fixed Ops Journal.
Overall, people were happy to be back together. They talked about the lessons the pandemic taught them and carrying those forward to improve customer satisfaction and retention. And they were optimistic 2022 would be a good year.